Left – Frog Hole Farm Orchard on Monday, Jan 16 2023
Proper – Neighboring Orchard on Monday, Jan 16 2023
Go searching after the lengthy, wet days we’ve had in California. If you happen to drive by way of farm nation, you’ll see vast puddles of standing water on prime of the soil. What’s flawed with this image?
In farming, water can’t do its job when it’s sitting on prime of the soil. And it may’t do its job when it’s operating off the land into the ocean. It will possibly solely do its job when soil can take up it . And soil can solely take up water when it has the construction to take action. That’s why you gained’t see a lot – if any – standing water within the orchards at Frog Hole Farm. Farmer Al has been making ready for these epic rains since he began his regenerative farming journey in 1986. His dedication to constructing soil well being has turned what would have been an unlimited puddle right into a spongy ecosystem that’s resilient within the face of utmost climate patterns and local weather change.
The place are we ranging from?
Brentwood’s soil is a mixture of clay and clay loam. Clay soils are heavy and the particles are advantageous. Clay has a excessive floor space – when clay soils are managed properly, they’ve the flexibility to carry onto vitamins and water very successfully. When clay soils are mismanaged, they grow to be compact. This will create flooding situations and situations which can be exhausting for crops to develop in.
We try to farm in a approach that maximizes our clay soil’s inherent strengths. We do that by way of regenerative farming practices:
- We don’t until the land. Tilling with heavy equipment opens up the soil for planting, however over time it may additionally compact the soil and shatter its construction. When soil is compacted, it might not be capable to maintain as a lot water. That’s as a result of the soil’s pore area is lowered. Roots can’t survive properly in compacted environments with little water, vitamins and air movement. Rain merely slides away when the soil doesn’t have the capability to carry any extra. Compacted soil additionally contributes to standing water and runoff, which may result in flooding. Moreover, if there are chemical substances or nitrate fertilizers within the soil, these chemical substances journey with the water into the lakes, rivers and finally, the ocean.
- We plant cowl crops. We deliberately plant a mixture of grasses and legumes, and we let volunteers develop wild and free! The basis constructions of those grasses wriggle into the soil, opening it to air, helpful bugs and… WATER! When the grasses get too lengthy, we mow them and let the cuttings sit on the floor, the place they finally flip to mulch that feeds the soil. It’s Mom Nature’s magnificent cycle.
- We apply 20 tons of compost, per acre, per 12 months. Compost feeds our timber with the carbon, nitrogen and microbes they should produce scrumptious fruit. It additionally will increase the natural matter in our soil, which will increase the quantity of water our soil can maintain. For each 1 p.c improve in our soil natural matter, whether or not it’s by way of cowl crops or added compost, our soil can maintain 20,000 extra gallons per acre.
The place are we now?
Farmer Al has by no means seen this a lot rain abruptly within the 46 years he has been farming in Brentwood.
- Brentwood receivesa median of 9 inches of rain per 12 months.
- From September 1 to January 16 , Brentwood obtained 18.85 inchesof rain.
All this rain, and nearly no standing water in our orchards. Our soil was prepared for the storms. And now the rain will likely be saved in our spongy soil till we’d like it within the rising season. We typically begin irrigating round March. With all this rain, and our soil’s capability to carry onto it, Farmer Al says we could not want to start out irrigating till Could.
That is what regenerative farming seems like.